Is There Public Transportation In Tampa, Florida? (What You Should Know)

In order to get around a city, you have a couple of different options. You can drive your own car around, hitchhike, or maybe walk to get to your destination. However, if none of these is an option you can always try and find some public transportation to take.

Tampa, Florida is a city with a mix of public transportation options including traditional ones like buses, shuttles, and streetcars. They also have options unique to their city like their Pirate Water Taxis. Recently single personal motor scooters were added as another option.

It is important to know what your options are while traveling through a city. You should also know how to use these options which is why I have included some information and simple things that you can do to use public transportation effectively while visiting Tampa, Florida. Make sure to keep reading below to find out more about Tampa, Florida’s public transportation!

HART Buses

In Tampa, Florida they are part of the HART bus system. These buses cover the city of Tampa as well as several of the surrounding cities. Buses are always one of the easiest forms of public transportation to use. You can hop onto one of them and just ride until you get where you need to go. However, in order to use a bus effectively, you need to be familiar with two things. One is where the buses can take you and the other is which of the buses will take you to your desired location. We will explore each of these questions quickly below.

First, we need to take a quick look at the different areas within the city of Tampa. There are four main areas within the city of Tampa that are important to know as a visitor. The first area is the downtown portion of Tampa. This is in the center of the city and where many of the attractions and businesses in Tampa are located. Many buses run through this area and there are a couple of stations where you can transfer between bus lines if you desire.

The next section is the Channel District to the east of the downtown area. This is the area along the bank of the Ybor Channel. Speaking of Ybor the next section is Ybor City a historical neighborhood in the northeast portion of the city. The final section is Tampa Heights the portion of the city north of downtown.

In terms of specific buses here are some general things that you can use. Most of the buses will pass through the downtown area. If you want to get to the Channel District you will want to take either the 8 or 9 lines. The 8 or 9 will also take you to Ybor City. You may also take the 5 and 12 lines to get to Ybor City. If you need to travel to Tampa Heights you will want to use the 5, 6, or 1 bus lines to get to that neighborhood. To travel to the Tampa airport from the downtown area you will want to choose between the 10 or 30 bus lines.

In order to ride one of these HART buses, you will need a ticket. It costs $2 for a single ride, so make sure that you have changed just in case they aren’t able to give you a change back for a larger bill. If you are planning on making multiple bus trips look into buying a single-day pass. These passes allow you to ride any of the HART buses as much as you want that day. Single-day passes cost $4 and can be purchased the same as tickets for a single ride.

TECO Streetcar

Another option to get around a city is to use a streetcar. In Tampa, they have one of these streetcars, commonly known as the TECO Streetcar. If you are looking for an alternative way to explore the city you will want to check this streetcar out. It runs along the channel through several parts of the city providing you a view of both the river channel to one side and the historic city to the other.

The streetcar begins in the downtown area. From here it heads south before turning east. It will follow the bank of the Ybor channel as it continues to head east, then follows the river channel north up to its source. If you are looking to travel to Ybor City, this may be the best option to do so. Starting in the downtown neighborhood the streetcar goes through the Channel District, before ending in Ybor City.

Adding to ease of travel with the streetcar is the cost of travel. The TECO Streetcar is always free to ride, making it a great option for a visitor to the city that wants to limit their expenses. The street car runs every 15 minutes so you don’t have to worry about rushing to the station whenever you need a ride.

The hours that the streetcar runs can vary on the time of the week. Monday to Thursday the streetcar runs from 7 am to 11 pm. On these days don’t plan on exploring the city late into the night, or have an alternate way to get back to where you are staying. On Friday and Saturday, the hours are extended so the streetcar is open until 2 am, though on Saturday the car doesn’t start running until 8:30 am. Sunday has the smallest range of hours with the streetcar only running from 8:30 am to 11 pm. Sunday may not be the best day to rely on riding the streetcar.

Pirate Water Taxi

If you want more of a memorable form of public transportation you may want to look into Tampa’s pirate water taxis. While that might sound like an odd combination, they are part of the experience of visiting Tampa, and you won’t want to miss them on your next trip to Florida. The pirate water taxis are similar to taxis that you might encounter in other cities. They are painted that distinctive yellow and can carry several people from place to place.

Unlike taxis in other cities, these have a twist. Instead of being cars, they are small boats that are used to navigate the channels around the city of Tampa. The boats almost look like school buses floating out in the water with their bright yellow paint. Unfortunately, while these taxis are a great experience, there aren’t any real pirates riding with you.

The taxi hours can vary depending on the weather and the time of year. Each of the taxis has an experienced captain who will determine whether the channel is safe to take riders out into. Conditions permitting the River Route, the main route along the edge of the city, runs Sunday to Thursday from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm. Friday and Saturday the hours are extended a bit so the water taxis are open from 11:30 am to 10:30 pm at night.

You can buy a ticket for the water taxi when you board. It costs $15 for an adult one-way ticket and $10 for a child ticket. You can also purchase an all-day pass to use with the water taxi. These passes cost $25 for an adult and only $15 for a child’s pass. These tickets allow you to ride all the way from Tampa Heights down to the Channel District along the river. When boarding the taxis will fill until they hit the max number of passengers. If you are traveling with a large group, be aware that you may not all fit into one taxi and may need to split your group up. Here is a page from the water taxi service answering many other common questions people may have.

Electric Scooters

If you want more of a personal option while traveling around the city you might be interested in one of the electric scooters that you can find around the city. These scooters are part of a program that the city of Tampa has been working on for several years. The scooters allow residents and visitors to travel short distances quickly. Whether you just want to get between attractions quickly or need to make it a short distance to a bus stop these are great supplementary options to the other forms of public transportation.

In order to ride electric scooters, you will need a couple of things. The first thing is a driver’s license, you won’t be able to operate one of these scooters without one, sorry kids. You will also need the scooters company’s app in order to unlock the scooter. There are four different companies that offer scooters, you may want to look into each of the companies before operating one of the scooters. By using the app you will be able to unlock and use the scooter. The app will also track how long you use the scooter and will charge you the appropriate amount for your use.

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Nathan Aydelotte

Hello! I'm Nathan, the lead editor for Suggested by locals. I grew up in the Boise, Idaho area and have lived here most of my life. I enjoy being close to the mountains where I can go hiking, camping, and mountain biking.

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